Terrence Musekiwa talks about his solo show at Catinca Tabacaru Gallery in Bucharest: „In my works, springstone is a symbol for the culture that survives”

Catinca Tabacaru Gallery in Bucharest is right now hosting Terrence Musekiwa‘s solo show called „Influence of the Unknown”. The exhibition, housed in the gallery’s wide industrial space, presents both older and very recent works by the artist that speak about the relationship between ancestry and contemporary identity. Musekiwa’s expressive sculptures, made from materials of very different provenance (organic or synthetic), channel the rich culture of Zimbabwe and its long history of stone carving and sculpting. Following the spirit of these meaningful old traditions, the artist continues his mission of story-telling. 

Terrence Musekiwa talked to Propagarta about the beginnings of his career as an artist, about his search of a personal narrative and about the significant purpose of his works and practice. 

The exhibition will be open until April 1st this spring.

Your background, your personal history, has an important role to play in your art. I figured it would be a great way to start our little chat by telling us more about it. What is your relationship with your immediate and distant history, in terms of artistic creativity?

 For me, to become an artist was not a choice. I believe that you become an artist by divine appointment. When you are chosen to do a certain something you are chosen because it is your mission to pass a certain important information to the next generations.

I grew up in a family where sculpture was very present. My father is the second generation of sculptors in my family. He was taught according to the old traditions of stone sculpting in Zimbabwe. I took up my father’s profession, but I did not feel like I was taking up any profession at all at that time. To me it felt like it was natural to do this, like it was the only way. I went to the visual arts school trying to pursue the ideas that I had about sculpture and its purpose nowadays. So I started to search for my voice and for the narrative that I wanted to tell through my works. From the beginning it was important to me that the works that I make to tell the story of my history, my ancestry, so that this story will live on. African culture is all about oral traditions: the elder passes on the stories and traditions to the younger, and so it lives on. This is my mission as well, to do this through my sculptures.

Terrence Musekiwa, Rurimi moto (The Tounge is Fire), 2023, springstone, red jasper, nitruous oxide canisters, brass rings, brass, aluminum, teak. Courtesy of Catinca Tabacaru Gallery.

You work with such different materials: soft, hard, old, new, natural, artificial, black and white or colorful. When did you shift from more traditional materials to more diverse ones? How do you choose the materials that you want to work with?

Zimbabwe translates to “The House of Stones”. There are certain minerals that you can find and mine only in Zimbabwe, because they have been there in the grounds for thousands of years. I use this material, called springstone, that is only found in Zimbabwe and through it I channel the traditions and the culture of my country. In my works, springstone is a symbol for the culture that survives. This stone speaks about Zimbabwe and it is directly connected to the ancestral energies that guide us and that we follow. I put this special stone in relation to other more contemporary materials, that, in contrast, are man-made. Wires talk about connections, bullets talk about conflict and conflict’s long history in our country, and so on.

Sometimes, when I come across a certain material I have a feeling of deja-vu, like I’ve worked with this material before, even though I hadn’t. With some of them I find this connection and I know that I have to use them, and that if I follow this feeling it will all come together beautifully in the end.

Terrence Musekiwa, Mukuru (Elder), 2023, springstone, internet cables, brass door handles, an iron bike, crystal plastic beads, steel, aluminum, copper. Courtesy of Catinca Tabacaru Gallery.

Terrence Musekiwa, Mukuru (Elder), detail, 2023, springstone, internet cables, brass door handles, an iron bike, crystal plastic beads, steel, aluminum, copper. Courtesy of Catinca Tabacaru Gallery.

Some of the works displayed in your new solo show, Influence of the Unknown, are extremely recent. What are the main ideas that you are inspired by and that you want to explore right now?

I am still working on the bigger project that I started in 2015. So it is an ongoing project that I am still developing. I talked about how I want to incorporate the teaching, traditions and culture of my country and my ancestry in my sculptures, and I am still pursuing this idea. Some of the materials that I used in recent works are much older finds, but the connection between them and my ideas are not finished, and I will continue this project until I feel that this connection comes to an end.

Can you tell us about a future project? What’s next?

I am going with Catinca Tabacaru Gallery at Basel Hong Kong in March so I have a few works that I am preparing for the upcoming fair. I am doing a series called The Government Workers and a few of the works I will present there. 


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